China says a U.S. naval vessel that had an encounter with Chinese ships in the
South China Sea violated Chinese and international law. At the same time, a
Chinese spokesman gave few details of the incident or what the next steps would
Both China and the United States have lodged protests
about an incident, Sunday, in which the Pentagon says five Chinese vessels
harassed a U.S. Navy research ship.
At a regular Chinese Foreign Ministry
briefing in Beijing Tuesday, spokesman Ma Zhaoxu strongly rejected the American
version of the story, which places the blame squarely on the Chinese.
says the U.S. claims seriously disagree with the facts, confuse black with white
and are completely unacceptable to China.
The Chinese spokesman said the
American action violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and
several Chinese laws.
He says his government has lodged "solemn
representation" with the U.S. government because the ship Impeccable conducted activities in China's
so-called Exclusive Economic Zone, in the South China Sea, without China's
Ma also demanded that the American side immediately stop what
he calls "its offending activities" and take effective measures to prevent
similar incidents in the future.
Spokesman Ma gave no details of the
incident and did not answer reporters' questions as to which specific laws had
The Chinese official also did not directly dispute Pentagon
claims that the incident took place in international waters.
says the Impeccable is a research vessel
that was conducting routine ocean surveillance in international waters, 120
kilometers south of China's Hainan Island.
A Pentagon spokesman says five
Chinese ships surrounded the American ship, and maneuvered aggressively and
A U.S. government statement, Tuesday, says military vessels
do not require permission of the coastal state for activity within the Exclusive
Economic Zone. The statement says there are Sino-American mechanisms in place
to discuss maritime issues and that Washington is ready to hold such
The naval confrontation comes just weeks after the United States
and China resumed military talks, which had been suspended after an American
announcement of arms sales to Taiwan. Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade
province and has vowed to use military force, if the separately-governed island
declares formal independence.
The latest tension also comes as Chinese
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi is in the United States, to discuss preparations
for a meeting between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao in
London in April.